Parity and Parents’ Health in Later Life: The Gendered Case of Ismailia, Egypt

Michal Engelman, Johns Hopkins University
Emily M. Agree, Johns Hopkins University
Kathryn M. Yount, Emory University

In this paper, we investigate the relationship between reproduction and functional health in later life among women and men in the resource-poor and gender-stratified setting of Ismailia governorate, Egypt. Analyses of survey data collected in 2003 show a statistically significant positive association between parity and difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs), controlling for demographic and socioeconomic factors and other co-morbid conditions. We also find that the number of daughters (but not sons) is associated with worse physical functioning, and this association is more pronounced for older fathers than for older mothers. Our results indicate that both biological and social pathways link fertility and later-life health in this context, and that prescribed familial roles may underlie the differential impact of sons and daughters on the health of mothers and fathers in later life.

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Presented in Session 51: Factors Influencing Health in Later Life: Evidence from Developing Countries